Behind the Fence

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Free Plants

Free plants are readily available with just a little effort.

Taking advantage of an unusually warm day in March, yesterday I spent the entire day, cleaning off beds, pulling weeds, trimming herbs and just generally puttering around in the potager. Cutting back a lavender plant, I was pleased to see it survived the winter very well. I don’t recall the variety, but it must be hardy and worthy of propagation. I took five tender stems about 4 – 5-inches in length, stripped the leaves from the lower two-thirds and put it in moist potting mix with added moisture crystals. Off to the green house to join the rest of my free plants. Taking a quick inventory, I counted 3 rosemary, 6 thyme, 1 Peggy martin Rose, 5 Knock-Out Roses, 2 Crepe Myrtles, and 20 geraniums, all from cuttings last fall.

Cuttings are quite an easy way to increase a plant collection. I take tender stems from healthy plants, strip the bottom leaves, dip it in rooting hormone and stick them in moist Pro Mix (which I buy by the bale). Okay, the plants aren’t totally free. I mix moisture crystals into the potting mix to insure the stems do not dry out. I place the cuttings in a shelter spot out of direct sun. After roots are formed I move the plants to a sunny location and fertilize every 2-3 weeks with a diluted water soluble fertilizer (like fish emulsion or Miracle Grow.) You don’t need a greenhouse for cuttings. For several years geranium cuttings have over wintered in the window sills of my basement.

Two other sources for free plants are division and seed collecting. I have ferns and chrysanthemums from my mother-in-law, iris and cannas from a neighbor and my eyes are set on some gorgeous hostas in a friend’s garden. I have just begun to collect seeds. My one success is poppies. I collected seeds from zinnias last fall and will know in a few weeks if they will germinate.

Quite often I have more plants than I have room for in my potager, either from cuttings, overzealous seed starting or division. Tossing healthy plants into the landfill is simply not an option. First I offer them to friends and co-workers. But it isn’t unusual to drive by my house and see plants by the curb with a free sign. Now that I am blogging I will post a list of the free plants I currently have available. Hopefully some local gardeners will read my blog and can use the freebies. I have no problem bribing folks to read my blog!


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  2. A dear friend gave me some wonderful currant tomato plants--that have self seeded over and over and over! I have them planted in our alley, and most of my friends now know that not only can they come to pick tomatoes any time, but they are welcome to come dig up plants!!!

  3. There is a lot to be said for the bartering system. Yesterday I traded seed potatoes and poppy seeds for onion sets and heirloom tomato seeds.

  4. Have enjoyed this blog....just curious as to where one could find the free plants....can't find out where you are located.

  5. I'd love to share some plants with you! I live in Paducah, KY. If you are in this area, email me at